Simon Schneider He lives in a house in ruins on a cliff of Cap de Creus and is a kind of literary black, well, not even that, he supplies quotations from other authors and ideas for novel structures to a single client, which for more inri is his brother, the Great Bros, a mediocre Barcelonan writer who went one day to New York, changed his narrative language and, in English, became a world star, although he remains hidden, like Pynchon or Salinger. We are facing the new novel by Enrique Vila-Matas (Barcelona, 1948),
This senseless haze
(Seix Barral) and the author receives us in a bookstore near his home.
What do the two brothers represent?
Two consciences that face each other.
You can see yourself as a superhero and a supervillain, one as a nemesis of the other, right?
They are very different and at the same time they could be a single person, like Jekyll and Hyde. One has faith in literature, and another despises it, but it is an intrinsic rejection of love. The familiarity you have with your own literature can lead you to despise it at the time you want it. But if someone else despises it, it offends me.
Simon works looking for quotes and narrative schemes.
He sends encrypted messages to his brother, who thinks he plays his wife, Dorothy. Between Simon and Dorothy build the essence of the novels of the Great Bros. The author is not the ultimate responsible for their texts.
You are not a black novelist, but here there is intrigue in your own way and you even quote Raymond Chandler.
Very nice the end of that novel, Goodbye, doll, right ?: "It was a cold and very clear day. You could see far away ... but not as far as Velma had gone. "
The enigma is: will the two brothers meet in Barcelona?
The novel is deliberately structured in the manner of Conrad's Heart of Darkness, he goes down the Congo River, somehow, to meet Kurtz, while searching for the lost phrase. All that while Barcelona is overflown by the noisy helicopters of the procés and that gives it an air of Apocalypse now.
You never get involved in politics, but here the process is very present.
It's a backdrop. I am not a political analyst, I am a discreet person in these conflicts, in front of the garish.
But here he imbricates it in the narrative discourse.
Is that the book is about what really happens in life, can we know what happens? That was and was not at the same time a declaration of independence. The proclamation of the Republic was a simulation, something like a structure of fiction, a story. Let's see what judge Marchena would say: how to explain that? It seems easy to say: such a thing happened. But here you can not ... depending on how you tell it, I would switch to one side or the other. If I had said, for example, "it was a coup d'état" ... I feel distant from those adscriptions. A character of Peter Handke read the news: "Greece declares war on Cyprus" and exclaimed "what annoyance!" Because he read it as an interference in his life.
A US tabloid newspaper has found Pynchon on the street and photographed him.
I saw with displeasure the photo of that horrible character, it was horrible! I had imagined it in many ways but never so ugly. I still do not know if it's him. Once, the Spanish critic Gurpegui spoke with him, then he found him twenty years later and he was a different person! "You are not the same one I spoke with twenty years ago," he said. "Decide which of the two is Pynchon," he replied. What if Pynchon were many?
Here your narrator receives a diagnosis.
That is key. The brother tells him. But I am not a doctor and I can not know if he is paranoid or not, everyone who decides what he wants.
What is it like to live using quotes from others all the time?
In Abbreviated History of Portable Literature everything that each character said were quotes from others. Everything we say is an appointment even if we do not know it, it's something we've heard before and we've reconstructed. People who think they are very original simply have occurrences that others have had before.
The narrator dreams of liberating himself from the body and being pure narration.
We do not know if we will end up being all of that.
The character criticizes the so-called "nonfiction novels".
Nonfiction believes that it is reflecting reality, but what it does is reflect the copy of the copy. Plato said it and it should already be known. I do not like the things that are said "based on real events" because they are all, even the most dream-like novel. The concept of a nonfiction novel is very American. I make fun of everything, within my possibilities and also that. There are no fictions that I like very much, like those of Emmanuel Carrère, it depends on the type of work that is done with them.